All Photos: John Gibson

It’s been a whirlwind but the TransRockies Gravel Royale was sandwiched in there between the Leadville/Breck Epic Combo and the Canadian Rockies 24. The TransRockies race crew put on some of the best races, so I didn’t want to miss four days of Gravel Racing through the rugged Canadian Rockies!

It was a stretch to drive 22 hours from Colorado during the two-day break between Breck Epic and TransRockies but the transition went smoothly enough. Thankfully TJ and Steph at the Bicycle Cafe in Canmore had my Libre CR DL gravel bike dialed in so I could swing by to get it and head straight off to my friend’s place in Panorama to prepare for the race start.

Race morning I was randomly tossing stuff in the race bag for our four-day wilderness trip just minutes before the gun went off. A two-minute pre-race warm-up was even squeezed in there and I made it to the race start in time! It would be a surprise what was tossed in that bag but I knew I had a tent and change of clothes so figured everything else could be pieced together later.

After the gun went off in Panorama Village, we thankfully had a 15 km neutral start descending down the pavement into Invermere, hit a stop light in town to take a piss, and then the race was on! From here it was a little rough trying to restart the engine after all the driving so I opted to send an early flyer to wake the system up. It worked and off to the races we went! With a strong field at Gravel Royale, it was going to be a tough ride all week. After about 20 minutes on an open-fire road going solo, it became apparent I had picked a questionable place to attack and started to soften up on the pedals a bit to allow a hard-chasing group of five riders to catch up. From here we hit a typical TransRockies climb, going up a steep rugged road, requiring a fair bit of hiking, eventually topping up over Bear Creek pass. Sitting in third about a minute down from the leaders I rallied hard across the top singletrack and soon caught them. They seemed to be going pretty cautiously on the big descent so I let go of the brakes and pushed the pace on my trusty Libre. We quickly dropped the 2015 Xterra World Champion, Josiah Middaugh, but Rob would somewhat hold my wheel, bridging back up once the course flattened out again. From here we would cruise into the finish trading off pulls. Nearing Nipika, I upped the tempo on the last climb, riding Rob off my wheel and taking the win on Stage 1 to the overall race lead. This was a bit of a shock as my only goal this day was to survive and hopefully rally later on in the event once I recovered a bit from the Colorado doubleheader.

Unfortunately, Stage 2 was a full flat tire meltdown as I rode my gravel bike irresponsibly across some rugged terrain. Having not ridden it in over a month I still had a mountain bikers brain and forgot the limits of 40c tires. In the end, there were four plugs in my tires, and eventually, I had to put a tube in the front wheel, which would also go flat by the finish. All in all, I lost over 20 minutes on this stage and fell well out of GC contention.

Stage 3 it was back on top, narrowly beating Rob Britton in a sprint finish into Canal Flats on a fast rolling 100 km stage.

Stage 4 was an amazing day of gravel riding 120 km through some stunning Canadian backcountry. Britton and I would eventually be left as the last two standing as we hit the final climb of the event. He had the better legs on the day, taking his first stage win and the overall GC while I’d cruise in for second on the stage to cap a rad few days of gravel racing through the Canadian backcountry! The General Classification was taken away on the stage 2 meltdown but a couple of stage wins and silver was more than expected given the tightness of the race schedule!

From here it was straight back in the van to head up to the inaugural Canadian Rockies 24 in Canmore which my buddy Leighton Poidevin and I were hosting. Heading into our first year organizing a 24hr race in Canmore we had a few question marks but it turned into a successful debut! We invite riders out August 26-27th in 2023 to take on our second edition as we have dreams of growing it into a large enough event to host the 24HR World Championships one day!

Over and out from Jasper, Alberta as some rest is being taken before ramping it up for the last rounds of the LifeTime Grand Prix and the BC Bike Race.